Queen Victoria

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hail to the Queen, Baby!

******QUEEN VICTORIA******

The story of the QUEEN VICTORIA is really the story of 2 ships. She is in her finest today as the cunard Vista-class Queen, but for more than a year and a half, she made a name for her self as the R.C.S. ZUIDERDAM. The only way to do justice for both on this page is to create a seperate post for the Zuiderdam below.

The Crown Vic


The road to becoming the Queen Victoria was a long and winding one. Originally conceieved as an 8-footer to replace the lost QUEEN MARY 2 in the summer of 2004, the R.C.S. Victoria was derailed when the real ship was cancelled and her hull transferred to the P&O Line as their ARCADIA. I had no way of knowing if the real Queen Victoria would be built as a Vista-class ship, or if she would even be built at all! So, I had no choice but to abandon plans to build the 8-foot Victoria.

Before there was any announcement about the new Queen Victoria construction (in 2006), I had made the choice to build the Vista-class ZUIDERDAM. Then, after the Zuiderdam was built and entered service, I learned Cunard was building the Victoria again.

Sometime after that, I planned my new attempt at building the Crown Vic. However, by this time, I had already filled all my available space with ships, including 4 8-footers! It became clear that if I was going to build this ship, she could not be 8-feet long. Then the obvious choice was to build her the same size as my ZUIDERDAM, but this meant I would have to find room for another 5-6 footer OR get rid of the Zuiderdam. Then it hit me; CONVERT the Zuiderdam into the QUEEN VICTORIA.


The construction (or conversion) of the Crown Vic was accomplished in 5 evenings! It included the replacement of the superstructure around the funnel, the replacement of the funnel itself with a modern Cunard funnel, a new mainmast, a new retractable roof for the swimming pool, the addition of vertical partitions to the balcony staterooms, the repainting of the hull, a cage for the basketball court, the addition of multi-colored reclining pool chairs, the changing of registration from DOBSON LAKE to MERCADO LAKE, and other odd additions to the detail. When finished, she looked like a real scale boat model at last! FAR more interesting than she had ever been as ZUIDERDAM! Of course, all the features that allowed for nighttime illumination on the ZUIDERDAM were retained for the Queen.

Service life-

The R.C.S. Queen Victoria has the unusual distinction of sailing first 9 MONTHS before her namesake, making her older than the real ship!

The Maiden Voyage of the Queen Victoria began at about 9:40 am on Saturday, March 10, 2007 at Mercado Lake in Scottsdale. After making her way up the lake to the Dam on the south end, she docked for her formal christening. At that precise moment, she had the great misfourtune to lose one of the hex nuts holding her propellor on! The reversing action finally dislodged it. I had to take her home and add a new hex nut before returing to the lake!

It seemed that the specter of the "Brokedown Boat" had carried over from her Zuiderdam days...

Barrett Hochhaus



While basking in the glow of the new R.C.S. Ecstasy in the late summer of 2005, I found I did have one complaint about the new wondership- she was so large and heavy I sometimes strained my back getting her in and out of the water (I hand-launch my ships without apparatus). While I definately needed the impressiveness of an 8-foot ship, there was also a need for an intermediate ship, larger and more powerful than the single-channel ships, but not hard to get in and out of the water.


I cast my eyes out at prospective ships. I remembered the Vista-class cruise ship plan for Cunard's new QUEEN VICTORIA that I abandoned when the real thing was abandoned in 2004. Although I hated the Holland America funnels on their Vista-class ships, I suddenly overcame the reservations, and the ZUIDERDAM was selected for my next ship (interestingly, Zuiderdam is named for the southern point of the compass rose. Appropriate for a ship based in Arizona. I say interesting because I didn't know that when I chose Zuiderdam).

I also remembered the lighted blue tissue superstructure of the QUEEN MARY 2, and I really wanted to see that again, only not have the ship sink this time. Because of the capsizing of the Mary 2, I decided to make the superstructure out of sticks of foamcore like a cage, and then cover it with tissue, making it much less likely to capsize.

The Zuiderdam was engined with the same motor as the Ecstasy, the Traxxas Titan torque motor. This time, I attatched it to a 2-bladed plastic speed prop (the same as I use on the single-channel boats). This (and her lighter weight) would make the Zuiderdam much faster than the Ecstasy, and for a time, my fastest ship.

The tissue paper lighting effect was a big hit and of course, she was equipped with a CD player and speaker under her main bridge. Less successful was the red tissue behind the bridge windows designed to make the bridge seem to be lit in red at night.

Service Life-

The Zuiderdam's Maiden Voyage began on Saturday, October 22nd, 2005. It was a peaceful morning for everyone but the Zuiderdam. In spite of her christening, The voyage was frought with technical failure. Not long after embarking onto Dobson Lake, she became stranded. The coupler joining the motor to the prop shaft came loose and she had to be pushed to shore by of all things a SAILBOAT! For the newest cruise ship of Green Sea Shipbuilding, this was embarrassing.

It got worse. Later in the voyage, after the loose coupler had been tightened, a large crack in the hull at the stern was allowing a large amount of water into the ship. Tape was used to slow the leaking, but it was no use. The voyage ended, while Zuiderdam headed home for repairs.

Brokedown Boat-

Over the next 20 voyages, Zuiderdam was to earn a reputation for technical failure and stranding. She came to be known as the "Brokedown Boat". During one stranding, late on the evening of April 1st, 2006 at Chapparral Lake, the Zuiderdam once again became stranded by a dead battery. The R.C.S. Raffaello was called in, with styrofoam taped to her bow, to push the Zuiderdam back to shore. It was the first time I had used one of my ships to rescue another.

The Future-

The Zuiderdam as built, was probably the most inaccurate of all my ships. Compared to the real Zuiderdam, she is short, stubby, and too tall. As this bio is written, the Zuiderdam is laid up, pending a dramatic reconstruction. Her superstructure is to be removed, her hull cut down at least 2 inches from the main deck, and the superstructure rebuilt. This should fix her physical appearance and make her more proportionate to the real ship.

The Zuiderdam should be in service for at least another year, if the reconstruction is successful. She has lived up to her objective to be a smaller, more convenient option to the massive 8-foot flagships.

**************UPDATE ***************

Between July 15th and July 22nd, the Zuiderdam was extensively remodeled to be more proportionate to the real ship. The total ship was reduced 6 inches in height, a new superstructure was added and a new color of tissue paper was used, making her overall appearance much much better, as you can see in the first pictures on this page.

The success of the refit has given the Zuiderdam an unlimited life expectancy. It is now hoped that she can make it to at least her 100th voyage. Stay tuned to the main page for more updates.

Barrett Hochhaus